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Transcribed: James Newton Howard - Unbreakable Theme

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
Here's my midi mockup of "Weightlifting" from Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan).
Music composed by James Newton Howard.


Transcribed by ear from the original:

In 2000, before Marvel CU and Nolan's Batmans, James Newton Howard wrote this very subdued and little-noticed take on what a superhero's theme could be. It's a small and quiet theme to match the quiet, sad hero.

Cinematic Studio Strings, Metropolis Ark 2, Caspian Brass, Adventure Brass, Embertone Steinway D.

Feedback and comments are appreciated. Thanks for listening. :)

---

EDIT: The original version is a lot quieter than my mockup. Here's a version of mine with volume lowered to match the original, in case you want to compare them.
 
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richardt4520

Active Member
One of my favorite MNS movies. I had buying the soundtrack on my todo list since I just rewatched it to brush up for Glass. Very, very nice job, man! That is beautiful! What did you use for reverb? Or did you just use the libraries as is?
 
OP
Land of Missing Parts

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
One of my favorite MNS movies. I had buying the soundtrack on my todo list since I just rewatched it to brush up for Glass. Very, very nice job, man! That is beautiful! What did you use for reverb? Or did you just use the libraries as is?
Thanks, I actually haven't watched the other movies yet but they're on my list. I love all of Howard's scores for Shyamalan, up through The Happening. For reverb, I use EAReverb.
 

TheSigillite

Active Member
I think The Village might be my favorite JNH score. Also, great job!
I agree. Great score. Was looking for something to listen to at work today. You just helped me decide. Thanks.

@Land of Missing Parts this is so good! Great Mock-up. I fail hard at using my ear for mock-ups. Any tips? How long did this take? did you play everything in or enter the midi data? Do you isolate yourself from outside distractions or do you have some secret powers we don't know about? Thanks.
 
OP
Land of Missing Parts

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
I agree. Great score. Was looking for something to listen to at work today. You just helped me decide. Thanks.

@Land of Missing Parts this is so good! Great Mock-up. I fail hard at using my ear for mock-ups. Any tips? How long did this take? did you play everything in or enter the midi data? Do you isolate yourself from outside distractions or do you have some secret powers we don't know about? Thanks.
Thank you. :) I probably played 70% in initially but for me most of the work is in the midi editing, I just play so that the materials I start with have more of a human feel, usually with the tempo slowed down. I did most of it on and off over a weekend last summer and came back to finish it last week.

I'd love to hear tips from other folks, but for me personally I'd say to first map the tempo. Then try to tackle the easiest stuff first, which is usually the highest notes and then the lowest notes. Once you have the sort of harmonic ceiling and floor defined, you can fill in the middle notes and listen back to see which ones you're getting or missing. I tend not to do piano reductions--I just go right into playing in the instruments. After I've decided what the notes are, it's just coloring it to taste with arrangements and playing with EQ and reverb. Pitching the original song up can help identify some of the harmonies too.

My only secret ability--to the extent that I have any ability to speak of--is that I can make things better through iteration. I work in successive passes, and I always have the ability to listen to something I'm working on and think "No no, it's got to be more like this..."
 
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whiskers

Perpetual student
One of my favorite MNS movies. I had buying the soundtrack on my todo list since I just rewatched it to brush up for Glass. Very, very nice job, man! That is beautiful! What did you use for reverb? Or did you just use the libraries as is?
Unrelated, but should I watch Split before Glass?
 

OleJoergensen

Senior Member
Thank you for sharing, it sound very good- both versions.
Can I ask what you do to make it sound so transparent? It sounds like each instrument- group has its own place in the mix. Is it by panning the instrument, panning the reverb?
 
OP
Land of Missing Parts

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
Thank you for sharing, it sound very good- both versions.
Can I ask what you do to make it sound so transparent? It sounds like each instrument- group has its own place in the mix. Is it by panning the instrument, panning the reverb?
Thanks OleJoergensen. I used EAReverb2 to do all of my panning and reverb. I had it set to concert hall, and here is a visual of the spacialization I used.
Screen Shot 2019-05-25 at 9.38.49 AM.png

I should point out that the labels in the GUI are guides, but I don't use them literally. Also, CSS has its own spacialization out of the box, so all of this is in addition to the default main mics in CSS. The instances placed along the center, those I just used to push back further into the room.
 
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goalie composer

Active Member
Thanks OleJoergensen. I used EAReverb2 to do all of my panning and reverb. I had it set to concert hall, and here is a visual of the spacialization I used.
View attachment 20313

I should point out that the labels in the GUI are guides, but I don't use them literally. Also, CSS has its own spacialization out of the box, so all of this is in addition to the default main mics in CSS. The instances placed along the center, those I just used to push back further into the room.
Great mockup! Which mics do you use before EAReverb2? Ex Do you use the close mics from CSS?
 
OP
Land of Missing Parts

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
Great mockup! Which mics do you use before EAReverb2? Ex Do you use the close mics from CSS?
Thanks goalie composer. I think I left everything or nearly everything on the default mic settings. So CSS was default main mics, Steinway D was main mic, trumpet was tree mic.

But this question does make me think about whether there is a best practice for adding tails and ER to instruments that already have some. At what point is it bad practice to add tails to tails?
 

goalie composer

Active Member
Thanks goalie composer. I think I left everything or nearly everything on the default mic settings. So CSS was default main mics, Steinway D was main mic, trumpet was tree mic.

But this question does make me think about whether there is a best practice for adding tails and ER to instruments that already have some. At what point is it bad practice to add tails to tails?
Thanks for the info! And good question; from what I've seen on this site, most people seem to use the close mics and then position things and add a tail. I could see how a tail on a tail could make things pretty wet but, at the same time, if your mockup sounds the way you want (and it sounded great to me) then the bottom line is the sound you end up with, right?
 
I admire your work! Awesome!

I think csss should bring your layouts closer to the original. You should get them. Mix them up with css and you will get more realism and detals. And of course you use more expression. In each batch of sections. The beginning of phrases (attack) the growth of (sustain) and the end of phrases (release) all this must be controlled not only by dynamic layers(CC#1), but also by expression(СС#11) The original sounds more intimate than the same version is quieter. Since for this there is not enough just to lower the mix signal. It may take a lot of time, but it's worth it.

Awesome job, bravo!:)
 
OP
Land of Missing Parts

Land of Missing Parts

flibbertigibbet
I admire your work! Awesome!

I think csss should bring your layouts closer to the original. You should get them. Mix them up with css and you will get more realism and detals. And of course you use more expression. In each batch of sections. The beginning of phrases (attack) the growth of (sustain) and the end of phrases (release) all this must be controlled not only by dynamic layers(CC#1), but also by expression(СС#11) The original sounds more intimate than the same version is quieter. Since for this there is not enough just to lower the mix signal. It may take a lot of time, but it's worth it.

Awesome job, bravo!:)
Thank you Vladimir. CSSS is high on my list, for the reasons you mentioned. And I'm am admirer of the Shostakovich mock up you did last year.:)
 
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